Director: Hans Herbot
Cast: Geert van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche and Laura Verlinden
Running Time:127 minutes
Release Date: August 21st
A series of horrific crimes are being committed upon a community that showcase the darkest aspects of society and for the detective in charge of the case, the crimes allows past traumas to resurface which leads to an obsession that threatens to unravel his life and career. On the surface, The Treatment, based on English author Mo Hayder’s bestselling novel of the same name though set in Belgium for this adaptation, appears to be your standard police procedural crime drama, and in many ways, it is. This is not automatically a fault, after all many of the most recent successes of the genre, be it Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners or the seemingly endless parade of Scandinavian TV dramas that pop up on BBC4 from time to time, can also be boiled down to the same simplistic formula. It all depends of course on what you do to the material, and whether or not the characters are strong enough to engage the viewers, and for the most part The Treatment manages to do that while tackling a pretty dark subject matter.
For detective Nick Cafmeyer (Geert van Rampelberg), his latest case, a family have been held hostage in their house for three days and their son has been kidnapped, is reminiscent of a childhood trauma when his younger brother was taken. The main suspect in that case, a man named Ivan Plettinckx, was arrested but was released due to lack of evidence and has subsequently spent the following 25 years taunting Nick at his house. Nick naturally believes Ivan is behind this latest crime, however many of the local children are talking about a troll in the area and the longer the case goes on the higher the case the culprit may strike again.
At the centre, van Rampelberg delivers a impressive performance, rarely relying on cliché to help the audience understand the actions he takes throughout the film. In Nick, we are given a portrait of long-suffering grief over what happened to his younger brother alongside the guilt he feels that he could have done more to try and prevent it. His actions and growing obsession are not driven by his desire to solve the case, though that is a part of it, but his desperation to find closure over what happened. The only downside to his character is that this is the only aspect that we end up seeing. We never get any glimpse of his personality outside of his work; even a gathering of co-workers in his house for a birthday barbeque offers little insight as an appearance from Ivan soon brings Nick, and by extension the film, “back” to the issue at hand.
They are other problems as well. While the many twists and turns manage to maintain some suspense, there are moments when some aspects of the plot descends into implausibility and the characterisation of some of the supporting characters doesn’t quite work in the context of the story. Parts of the film feel baggy as well, the feeling being that perhaps part of the 130 minute running could have been trimmed.
All that said, The Treatment works as a well-crafted thriller, and through its non-exploitative approach to the issue of child abduction and paedophilia that makes it at times a rather uncomfortable watch. It is also enhanced by its strong leading performance and its commitment to exploring its themes, often in a manner that doesn’t compromise in showing the darker side of human behaviour.